This is a new arrangement of the beautiful Silent Night, dedicated to my little god-daughter, Aria, and her mummy and daddy.
I really like this melody (it’s a Basque carol) and I find its subject matter, the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, one of the most interesting episodes in the Gospels. Like a lot of the stories of Jesus’ genesis, it’s not dealt with in *all* the gospels. Matthew, after his lengthy family tree (*this* is what the bible’s editors ran with for the opening of the New Testament…?!), outlines quite clearly the rather delicate situation that the young couple found themselves in, concerning this surprise pre-nuptial pregnancy, but doesn’t go into the specifics of ‘The Annunciation’. Mark, the breathless, bounding lion of a writer that he was, skips it and everything to do with Jesus’ early life. As does John (although he wins for best introduction). Luke, the doctor, the man of learning, he gives us everything we know about Mary’s bizarre encounter.
“Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
She’s perplexed at his angelically formal hello (fair enough), but he hasn’t even got to the good part yet…!
Many artists have painted the scene throughout the ages. The one I’ve chosen is by Carl Heinrich Bloch, a prominent 19th century Danish painter. The light effect is incredible. (The original hangs in Denmark’s national museum in Frederiksborg Castle, north of Copenhagen.)
PS If you’re listening on headphones, or on good speakers, marvel at the beautiful sound of the Nord Stage piano sound (I’m using one that’s sampled from a Steinway Model D). Especially the harmonics and overtones on the ‘most highly favoured lady’ phrase.
Happy Christmas! This is a jazzy arrangement of ‘Winter Wonderland’ that I did last year for one of my piano students, Chloe, just as I was finishing up my teaching and preparing to embark on this year’s Post Tropical adventure. I’ve made it downloadable, so feel free to add it to your seasonal playlists…!
I’ve also revamped my website, so this is also an announcement of that. Feel free to ‘share’ and ‘bookmark’ and ‘like’ and ‘follow’ in the spirit of holiday cheer!!!
Much exclamation 🙂
I was chatting with a friend of mine today who helped me record this track – Watch Me Fly – a few years ago. We pitched it for a TV show about a bunch of kids in a stage school so I wrote a lyric to go along with a riff and chord progression I had.
The lights beckon: it’s time for me to get up off my knees
The world threatens to leave me in the cold and watch me freeze
My pulse quicker, I stand up tall and take my rightful place
My blood’s thicker than the water that I splash upon my face
I’m on my way…just watch me fly
Cold shouldered, pushed around and treated like a fool
But I’m bolder, there’s nothing you can do to break my cool
I’m on my way…just watch me fly
If you’d like a copy in your iTunes library (I use Windows 7…):
- right-click on the picture and select ‘save link as…’
- go to your iTunes folder
- in iTunes press Ctrl+, to go to Preferences
- click on the Advanced tab
- you’ll see the location of your iTunes folder – now click Cancel and go back to the window we were ‘Save link as…’-ing in
- Make a new folder called ‘Jay Wilson’
- Make a folder in that one called ‘Watch Me Fly’
- Save the track in the ‘Watch Me Fly’ folder
- Now right click on the picture again and select ‘copy image’
- Go to iTunes and Ctrl+O to add a file to your library
- Find the track and click Open
- Now right click on the track in your library and select ‘Get Info’
- Open the Artwork tab, click on the box, Ctrl+V will paste the image
Sorry if that seems complicated but if you weren’t familiar with how to do that, it’s really useful to know and there is a treasure trove of music out there on the internet for you to enjoy!
I’m happy to help you with any queries about the process (although I’m only familiar with PCs…).
I played at The Song Room on Monday night, a new singer/songwriter night at O’Sullivan’s on Westmoreland Street hosted by Hamlet Sweeney and Brian Brody. Brian opened the night with some of his songs accompanied by a harp augmenting his guitar. Ria followed with a band and had us grooving. Hamlet and I did a set next and then I finished the night:
- ‘Raise your glasses’
- ‘My belly’s empty and my heart is sore’
- ‘I love you madly’
- ‘Face in a frame’
- ‘Make it home’
The last two went down really well, which I was pleased about. I played ‘Make it home’ on the piano that’s a feature of the pub – nice to play on a real instrument.
A busy but exhilarating night in Whelan’s new upstairs venue. I opened the night with three of my own songs: ‘Gone’, ‘Make it home’, and ‘Face in a frame’. I’m still a bit unsure when performing my stuff but I had a few appreciative comments afterwards and I was happy with how they went. I didn’t have time to learn them really well and needed the words in front of me which I really can’t allow myself to do next time.
So, the reason I was playing the event in the first place was because Jill was asked to support. I’ve played with Jill since she recorded her eponymous EP last summer; some songs on cajon, some on guitar, with a sprinkling of backing vocals (or, as Jo called them the other day, ‘man harmonies’!). We started with ‘Instead’ which, the last couple of times we’ve done it, I’ve started on bodhrán before switching to cajon after the first chorus. Not sure how effective this is, although I do like the sound of the bodhrán (which I got in Dingle last month). We had been opening this song with me playing a note on a wine glass – a great effect. I need more hands! Stu suggested using a Tibetan prayer bowl, which is an idea I’ll look into: it would certainly be more robust and require less fiddly preparation than the wine glass. After ‘Instead’ I switched to guitar and we did ‘Dreams’ and ‘Break my every move’. I’m happy with the start of my solo in ‘Dreams’, a nice strong arpeggio, but I always feel it ends less strongly than it begins: must take a look at that. Me switching back to cajon, we did the song that everyone seems to like a lot at the moment, ‘Sweet September’. It’s great fun to play on cajon with its Spanish/Arabian feel in the verses, moving to the ‘up’ chorus and, my favourite bit, the middle section that bursts into the major. Stacie came up and joined us for the last two numbers, Jill’s cover of REM’s ‘Losing my religion’ and ‘Overload’ by the Sugababes. I was enjoying myself at this point and ventured a third harmony which worked well.
Then it was time for the main act of the night, James McMorrow. I’ve never even seen James play before, although I’d really liked his stuff on MySpace, so was delighted when he asked if I’d play piano with him. He had demo versions – with piano parts included – of everything he wanted me to play on so, with a bit of homework under my belt, we were able to run over the songs on Monday and Tuesday afternoons and put them together with the other guys in the band at the sound check. The ‘other guys’ being my old musical companions, Dave and Peter; it was great to play with them again. I’ve lost the setlist but stand-out songs for me were ‘Jacob’, ‘We don’t eat until your father’s at the table’, and ‘I’m free’. I felt totally at home in the various styles of James’s songs, which I’d describe as ‘Americana’, ranging from country to gospel-tinged R’n’B (the old-school, Ray Charles kind). I used my faithful Yamaha P-200 keyboard on the Piano 2 setting for the whole set. Man, it’s a great sounding machine and is lovely to play. Even if it does weigh a flippin’ tonne.
I was on cloud nine the whole night. It was great to see a few recently-off-the-radar friends again and there was a great atmosphere in the room as everyone had gathered to support James, a fact which seemed to dispel any nerves he might have had and he turned out a great performance. Hopefully the first of many more to come. I’ll keep you posted.